March 5, 2013

Calamansi, Blood Oranges & Honey Tangerine Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

Woohoo, a new post! This is totally unplanned (but then so was my 16-month "hiatus" LOL ) but surprising events this past week led me to sign back in to this blog and give it an update.

(For all the wonderful people who left comments while I was away: Thank You! They are much appreciated and will reply to each one of you as soon as I can.)

So where have I been? What I've been up to? Well, I've started to raise chickens in my backyard. My family got our first chicks October 2011, and now have seven hens. Their names are: Julia, Martha, Ina, Padma, Rachael, Pepper (who I wanted to name Nigella but my son really liked the name because it matched her black feathers, the next hen for sure), and last but not the least Ted. Then several months ago, we rescued a rooster which we named Gordon. We've been enjoying their beautiful, flavorful eggs. My husband and I have always wanted to keep chickens, most especially after visiting Soul Food Farms a few years back.

Also about a year ago, my family found a local farm that grows vegetables and raises animals without pesticides and just recently now part of their herd share. It's been exciting to see my boys get to milk the farm cow (named Glenda) one day a week and get the benefits - milk can't get any fresher than that! This past couple of years have truly been a journey for my family towards an agrarian lifestyle. I hope to share them with you here.

But for now, let's move on to this cake.

schmear that cake pan, whisk the dry ingredients and make colorful citrus wheels

Well, the cake all started with Instagram (You can also say that's another place I've been hanging out this past year LOL). The photos I see from all these really creative people have been an inspiration. The most recent was this one in particular from Hourie Sahakian (@houriesloves), head baker at Short Cake in Los Angeles.

Seeing that photo of her citrus upside down cake last week made me just want to recreate it, make the cake come to life!

I adapted Thomas Keller's "pan schmear" recipe from ad hoc at home since I've had great success with that recipe (and a blog post to show for it). I already know it'll be much easier arranging the citrus wheels on it instead of an already hot, sticky caramel.

I wanted something different for the cake instead of a usual white batter so decided to try a cornmeal base using Lemon Cornmeal Cake recipe from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.

I used a combination of calamansi, blood oranges and honey tangerines for this cake because I wanted to play with different sizes and colors. I'm sure any of your favorite citrus would work with similar results. There are a few things I would do differently next time. Cooking the citrus in sugar syrup first to draw out some of their moisture. I found the sugar bottom got diluted from the citrus juices and made the batter moist.

I didn't realize this until after I flipped the cake right side up and remedied that using my blowtorch for some brulee action. The thin layer of crackly sugar topping made for a great textural contrast.

Calamansi, Blood Oranges and Honey Tangerine Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

(adapted from Thomas Keller ad hoc at home)
112 g (8 TBSP) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
217 g (1 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
pinch kosher salt

5-6 Calamansi
3 each blood oranges and honey tangerines, or any preferred citrus

(adapted from Tish Boyle The Cake Book)
161 g (1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
150 g (1 cup) yellow cornmeal
200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
363 g (1 1/2 cups) whole milk yogurt
170 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
6 g (1 TBSP) finely grated blood orange zest
15 ml (1 TBSP) freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 F degrees.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the butter, honey, vanilla, brown sugar and salt, and beat until smooth and blended. Spread 1/3 cup of the schmear onto the bottom of an 10-inch pan. (Reserve the remaining schmear in the refrigerator for two weeks or a month in the freezer.)

Slice off the tops and bottoms of citrus, place on a clean surface and slice away rind and pith top to bottom following curve of fruit. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick, discard any seeds. Arrange on top of pan schmear in a single, tight layer. Set aside and prepare cake batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until blended. Add the yogurt and stir to combine. Add the butter and stir until blended. Add the zest, juice and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet into the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and cake test comes out clean. Cool the cake on the wire rack for 10 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter and serve.

November 21, 2011

Rocky Road Muffins

Is it just me or does the days going by way too fast? November seemed like it just started but it just hit me Thanksgiving will only be a few days from now. Next thing, Christmas will be around and we'll be welcoming 2012 --Ack, I'm certainly not ready for the holidays just yet.

There's been a whirlwind of events in my family lately: celebrating three birthdays in one week and a 11-11-11 wedding of my little cousin definitely made for a busy household. My busier work schedule this week have definitely made me feel like I can't seem to catch up! So an unexpected weekend off from work was just what I needed to slow down a little, take a deep breath and BAKE!

These Rocky Road muffins were very simple to put together. Chocolate and nuts along with marshmallows were stirred into a chocolaty batter and topped with even more chocolates and nuts; they made for a scrumptious muffin. While I was prepping my ingredients the night before,I realized I didn't have mini marshmallows on hand. I got too lazy and didn't really want to go out in the cold to buy them so figured I make them. Making marshmallows from scratch is really easy (and fun for me, watching my boys trying to handle the sticky goo). I've made marshmallows before, the recipe can be found here.
And apparently my pantry contained all the nuts in the world except walnuts, the ones originally asked for in the recipe. No matter, I just used a little bit of each nuts and even cracked several macadamias to add in there. I really like the result of putting a variety of nuts in these muffins, they gave a different flavor and texture to each bite. I would even go ahead and add more nuts next time I bake these.

So something chocolaty that's not overly sweet you can enjoy first thing in the morning. Truly a great muffin to start the day. Oh, but my family couldn't help themselves, we enjoyed these with a cup of hot cocoa, topped with marshmallows, of course! :)

Rocky Road Muffins

280g (2 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
15g (1 TBSP) baking powder
5g (1 tsp) salt
15g (3 TBSP) cocoa powder
60g mini marshmallows
75g milk chocolate chips
60g (1/2 cup) nuts
150g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
200g (3/4 cup) milk
2 large eggs
75g butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven 400F degrees. Prepare muffin pan either by greasing or using liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Stir in the marshmallows and set aside.
  3. Combine the nuts and chocolate chips together. Set aside 1/3 cup and add the remaining to the flour mixture.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, milk, eggs and butter. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Portion batter into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle tops with reserved nut-chocolate chip mixture. Bake for 16-18 minutes.
  6. Remove and let cool on rack for 5 minutes. Then remove from pan and serve.
Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

November 16, 2011

Coconut Pandan Chiffon Flan Bundt Cake

I've been thinking for weeks now of what bundt to bake to celebrate National Bundt Day with Mary, The Food Librarian. She has been posting a bundt every single day for thirty days leading up to this food holiday. I've even gone through her archives and round-up from the previous years. Last minute inspiration while thinking about my last year's Ube Chiffon Flan Bundt led me to bake a Coconut Pandan Chiffon Flan Bundt Cake.

Pandan is a tropical plant widely available and used in cooking in Southeast Asia. My Lola always told me to place a pandan leaf in the water when cooking rice to make it special; I would be the one told to cut a leaf off our plant in the backyard. I didn't mind since I know I'm in for something special - just the lovely scent that fills the house as it cook is just heavenly.

I have not had luck finding a pandan plant here in US but the leaves can be found in the frozen section of most Asian stores. Some stores will have fresh leaves once in a while so that's when I stock up. Pandan's flavor matches perfectly with coconut, a popular Filipino dessert is Coconut Pandan Gelatin with strips of young coconut and green cubes of pandan gelatin.

Taking those flavors and putting it in a cake form with added leche flan (and caramel) puts this cake over the top! The smooth, creamy coconut leche flan along with light and airy coconut pandan chiffon cake are like yin and yang textures but with both flavors in harmony.

There are plenty of steps in making the cake but don't let that deter you. I promise it's all worth it!

Coconut Pandan Chiffon Flan Bundt Cake

For Coconut Flan:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
7 egg yolks
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

For Coconut Pandan Chiffon Cake:
240g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
15g (1 TBSP) baking powder
5g (1 tsp) salt
7 pandan leaves, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
125ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
7 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
few drops pandan essence
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  1. Make the caramel. Mix sugar and water together in a small saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to boil in medium-high heat until golden brown in color. Immediately pour into bundt pan, swirling caramel around until it covers the bottom and sides of pan. (Bundt pan will become hot from caramel, wear protective mitts!) Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring a pot full of water to boil needed for bain marie.
  3. In a bowl, stir egg yolks. Add both milks and vanilla extract and salt. Stir to combine completely. Strain mixture to rid of yolk solids and set aside while you prepare the chiffon cake.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  5. Place pandan leaves and coconut milk in a blender and puree until all leaves are finely shredded and mixture looks green. Strain through several layers of cheesecloth, squeezing out all the liquid.
  6. Add oil, egg yolks, vanilla and pandan essence to the pandan-coconut mixture. Stir thoroughly to combine. Add to flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
  7. In another large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold beaten egg whites into batter, a third at a time, just until incorporated. Set aside.
  8. Pour leche flan mixture into the caramel-lined bundt pan.
  9. Spoon the chiffon cake batter into the bundt pan. DON'T WORRY, THE CHIFFON CAKE BATTER WILL STAY FLOATING ON TOP OF LECHE FLAN. Fill only up to 2 inches from top of pan -- batter will rise as the cake bakes. *You will have leftover chiffon batter, enough to make 6 cupcakes; something to tie you over while your bundt cake chill overnight. :)
  10. Pour boiling water into a bigger roasting pan - this is your bain marie. Place the bundt pan in and bake for 45-50 minutes. Check doneness of cake by inserting toothpick.
  11. Take out of oven and let cool completely.
  12. Cover top with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  13. To serve, invert onto a plate and enjoy!

October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Marble Streusel Muffins

Chocolate: check. Cream cheese: check. Streusel: check. This week we start the Muffin Monday series on holiday muffins. And what a great muffin to start! All the different components you could ask for in a muffin are all here: rich chocolate flavor and creamy cheese topped with crumbly streusel.

Inspired by all the pumpkin recipes this Halloween season, I added some to the cream cheese. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Marble Streusel Muffins
makes 12 muffins

For Streusel:
30g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
72g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
1g (1/4tsp) pumpkin pie spice
28g (2 Tbsp) butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
35g (1/4 cup) cocoa crisp pearls (or chocolate chips)

For Muffins:
240g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
120g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
5g (1 tsp) baking soda
2g (1/2 tsp) salt
15g (3 Tbsp) cocoa powder
110g (4 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
122g (1/2 cup) pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, room temperature
125g (1/2 cup) water
80g (1/3 cup) oil
5g (1 tsp) vanilla extract

  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and spice. Add the butter and mix until crumbly. Stir in the cocoa pearls (or chocolate chips). Place in the refrigerator while you prepare muffins.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Prepare pan with liners and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Remove half a cup (about 80g) and set aside. Whisk in cocoa to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, pumpkin puree, 1 egg and half cup of flour until smooth. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the other egg, water, oil and vanilla. Add to the large bowl of cocoa-flour mixture (from Step 3).
  6. Spoon cocoa-flour and cream cheese pumpkin mixtures side by side into pans.
  7. Sprinkle tops with prepared streusel.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or it passes the toothpick test.
Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

October 27, 2011

Fresh Fig Ice Cream with Blue Cheese Cookies

It's been many years now that my family have been enjoying our neighbor's bounty of figs; we are truly lucky to have friends willing to share them with us. Our neighbor have several trees of Black Mission variety in his property, also ones he grew from cuttings he brought in from his home country that have finally started to bear fruit this year. So for weeks,my family and I would feast on figs every single day.

We eat them fresh as is, or with cheese and crackers for a snack. We also make our usual jam to be enjoyed months later. And every year, I try new recipes using figs for my family to enjoy. We've already made Fig Newton and Fig Bars which is always a hit with my kids. I've also baked them into a Fig and Almond Cake before and just recently paired them with goat cheese to make Cheesecake Muffins.

Fresh Fig Ice Cream is a totally different way of enjoying figs. A simple recipe, basically a fig jam blended with cream, but it's the coldness on your tongue and added creaminess that makes this a really decadent treat.

I also baked some blue cheese cookies to enjoy with the ice cream for an added savory component. They also added another texture, crisp edges and soft centers of the cookies -- I loved the combination of two together.

I played around and made some ice cream sandwiches but with mixed results. I think because I placed the assembled ice cream sandwiches back in the freezer and the cookies hardened. This made it difficult to bite into and resulted in the ice cream being squeezed out from the sides. Next time, they just need to be enjoyed right away.

Fresh Fig Ice Cream
adapted from David Lebovitz, recipe in Serious Eats

2 pounds (1 kg) fresh figs (about 20)
125 ml (1/2 cup) water
1 lemon
150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
250ml (1 cup) heavy cream
1/2 tsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
  1. Cut stems off the figs and cut into 8 pieces. Place figs in a medium pan with water and zest from lemon. Cover pot and bring to a boil over medium-heat. Stir occasionally and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove lid, add the sugar and continue cooking. Keep stirring until thickened or has consistency of jam. Remove from heat, let it cool completely. Transfer to a blender of food processor and puree to desired consistency (I left mine with little chunks of figs, you may process until smooth).
  3. Add cream and lemon juice to blender and combine. Taste for flavor, add more lemon juice if you needed.
  4. Place in the refrigerator to chill completely. Freeze following your ice cream makers instructions.
*Fresh Fig Jam can be made by following above recipe, using only the first four ingredients and follow instructions up to step 2.

Blue Cheese Cookies
adapted from :pastry studio:

175g (6 oz) blue cheese, softened
56g (4 Tbsp) butter, softened
80g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
180g (1 1/2 cup) flour
  1. Place blue cheese, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and blend until creamy.
  2. Add flour and pulse until it comes together. Remove and form into two disks of dough.
  3. Cover completely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  5. Roll dough into 1/4-inch thick and cut out cookies using cutter, about 2 inches in size.
  6. Place in a parchment-lined baking sheet, bake for 15-18 minutes, or until edges are golden.
  7. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

October 23, 2011

Calamansi Coconut Muffins

I had thought about sitting out on this week's Muffin Monday since I have already made plans to bake two birthday cakes this week. But when Anuradha sent us the challenge to bake Citrus Coconut Muffins, I immediately thought calamansi (kalamansi) so I knew I couldn't refuse baking these.

The original recipe asked for zest from lemons and oranges and I used calamansi all the way. I'm sure any citrus of your choice would work here. No other flavorings were needed so the flavor and lovely scent of calamansi came through with each bite. Calamansi peels are also great candied, Ive done some here; their peels tastes just like the ones from kumquats - delicious!

This recipe is also put together in an unusual way where it ask to "rub in" the butter, the way a biscuit or scone is done. I had actually ran out of milk so my usual homemade yogurt came to the rescue, which gave them a tang that complemented the calamansi. Then thought while mixing the batter if I could've used coconut milk as well; something I will try when I bake these muffins again.

I decided to make 12 mini muffins and 6 regular-sized. The smaller ones were topped with unsweetened dessicated coconut and used large coconut flakes (like the ones I used for Pinipig, Coconut and Chocolate Granola Muffins) for the regular ones. Both muffin pans were placed in the oven at the same time. Fifteen minutes passed and the minis were ready but noticed the large coconut flakes were already toasted even though they still had 10 minutes of baking to go! A quick tent with foil saved them (but then, they were devoured by the family before I can take any pictures). I would imagine sweetened coconut will toast quicker due to the sugar so make sure to keep checking those muffin tops when you bake these.

Calamansi Coconut Muffins
makes 12 regular or 24 mini

150g (1 1/4 cup) white whole wheat flour
150g (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
90g (6 1/2 TBSP) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
180g (3/4 cup) whole milk yogurt, room temperature
zest from 12 calamansi, finely grated (I used a microplane)
unsweetened dessicated coconut, for topping

Preheat oven to 385F degrees. Prepare muffin pan by either greasing or using liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter and work in with a pastry cutter.
In another bowl, combine eggs, yogurt and zest. Pour into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
Place in the prepared pans. Bake for 22-25 minutes (13-15 minutes for mini size) or until toothpick test is clear.
Remove and let cool slightly before taking out of pan. Serve warm.

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

October 21, 2011

Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Maple Frosting

This month marks the third year baking with The Cake Slice; we will be baking from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle. The book have separate chapters from chiffon cakes to pound cakes, butter-based cakes and fruit-based ones, flourless cakes, mousse and ice cream cakes, even chapters on cheesecakes and meringue cakes. I'm very excited to be baking from this book and have many recipes already bookmarked!

I really like that the recipes are written including weight (grams and ounces) along with the volume measurements. American cookbooks are still slow in adapting this type of measuring. When I started measuring ingredients with a kitchen scale a few years back, I noticed a vast improvement on my baking -- and importantly, my baked goods came out with consistent results. (If you don't have one, I highly recommend making an investment and purchasing one; they are not at all expensive). I am just happy to not be wasting time converting measurements and get on to baking when I use this cookbook.

On to our first cake: Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Maple Frosting. A perfect cake to celebrate Autumn. Chunks of apples, tender and still slightly crisp at the same time, along with walnuts make up this cake, warmly perfumed by cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Topped with cream cheese with maple flavoring and dusted with freshly-grated nutmeg for a really decadent slice. It's a simple, unpretentious cake that can be enjoyed anytime.


You can read Tish Boyle's blog here:
Please follow her on Twitter:!/tishboyle

Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Maple Frosting
adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle
makes one 9-inch square cake, serving 12

181g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
217g (1 cup firmly packed) light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
160ml (2/3 cup) buttermilk*
120g (2 cups) peeled and chopped 1/3-inch pieces Granny Smith* apples
57g (1/2 cup) walnuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease pan and line bottom and two sides with a strip of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the two sides. Butter paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place butter in the bowl of mixer and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly add the sugar and beat at medium-high speed until blended and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping sides as needed. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the buttermilk in two additions and mix just until blended. Fold in the apples and walnuts.
  4. Transfer batter into pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and toothpick test is clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack.
  5. Frost top of cooled cake with Maple Frosting.
Cream Cheese Maple Frosting
makes 1 1/3 cups

170g (6oz) cream cheese, softened
42g (3 TBSP) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp maple flavoring*
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
115g (1 cup) confectioneres' sugar, sifted

Using paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together at medium speed until smooth. Add extracts, spices and salt. Reduce speed to low, add the confectioners' sugar and beat until well blended. Raise speed to high until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.

*I used homemade whole milk yogurt, Honeycrisp apples and maple syrup.


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